Saturday, August 27, 2011

You Looking At Me?

Last year I was reading a magazine for nature photographers.  Part of that issue was a survey asking the photographers about their favorite place to photograph.  It was fun to read and see how many of the top places we've been to, including Canadian Rockies, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches, Zion, and Acadia.  One of the top spots is in our own back yard -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  June and I decided we have been neglecting our park and we need to spend more time in the GSMNP.  As a result, my Smokies Gallery is now the largest on my website.

Last weekend we took another get away trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was a great weekend to spend time together and recharge our batteries in the woods.  As John Muir said

Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energies, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

We hiked to Hen Wallow Falls, Biked the Cades Cove Loop at sunrise, spent at least 30 minutes waiting for a mother bear and her three cubs to move so we could continue our ride, hiked to Andrews Bald after a rain, caught a great sunrise at Clingman's Dome, and another great sunrise from the Foothills Parkway outside Townsend.  Believe it or not, there are still wildflowers blooming in August.

In addition to the black bears, there were numerous white tailed deer, including several bucks.   This one wasn't too sure about the photographer in the high weeds.

You Looking At Me?
We were blessed with peace and quiet on our trip to The Smokies.  Yes, you can find peace in the park if you get away from Gatlinburg, start early, leave the main roads and explore the trails deep into the woods.

There are 17 new photos from this trip in the Smoky Mountain Gallery for you to enjoy.  Check them out and enjoy some of the beauty of our park.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

His Light Shines

I took this photo this morning off the Foothills Parkway near Townsend Tennessee.   It's a place I've been for sunrise multiple times and each time it's different.  There has always been some fog in the valley below the Parkway and this morning it was staying low, allowing the hills to peak out.   There was also something special in the image -- a glow of light in the fog.  I'm assuming it was a street light, security light or something similar strong enough to cut through the fog.   Looking at a map I think it may have been Millers Cove Church.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:6

It was still very dark when I took this - 30 seconds, f/5.6, ISO 400.   This morning the light was shining out of the darkness and we could see it on the hillside above the valley.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Storms Coming to Rich Valley

I spent last Sunday taking photos around Smyth County Virginia.   My first stop was the Visitor's Center in Chilhowie to get some suggestions for places to shoot.   The folks there were very helpful, giving me enough ideas to last for days.  One suggestion was the Rich Valley Overlook on northern boarder of Hungry Mother State Park.  This is not a marked spot and is easily missed.  In fact I drove about a mile down the other side of the mountain before I found a place to turn around and head back up to the top where there was the only pull off I saw for miles.   You couldn't see the valley from the pull off so I was standing on the edge of the road against the guard rail hoping a car didn't come by and send me and my gear over the edge.

It had been thundering for a while and I knew from the weather map on my phone that an afternoon thunderstorm was going to hit about the time I got to my spot.  Just before and after a storm is some of the best times to get dramatic lighting on the landscape so I knew I had to try.  I had just enough time to set up and fire off several shots before the rains hit and chased me back inside my car.   You can see the rain coming up the valley on the left side of this photo.
Be sure to click this image for a larger view

To capture the entire range of light I took bracketed shots at -2EV, 0EV and +2EV.  I used Nik HDR Efex Pro to merge them together, then a little Lightroom adjustments to lighten the trees, increase the vibrance, cut some of the noise, and add a little vignette.